Mainland China has banned imports of pineapples from Taiwan from Monday, citing concerns about plant pests as tensions rise across the Taiwan Strait over politics, trade and coronavirus vaccine supply. Officials in Beijing said the ban was a “normal biosafety measure” but Taipei said the decision violated global trade rules and it would spend NT$1 billion (US$36 million) to help its pineapple farmers, who account for about 40 per cent of the island’s fruit sales to the mainland. The ban comes just weeks after the mainland barred imports of meat products from Taiwan to prevent the spread of bird flu and the consumption of meat with animal feed additive ractopamine . Relations between Beijing and Taipei have plunged since the island’s pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. The tensions worsened as the Trump administration forged stronger ties with Taipei, including increasing high-profile naval missions through the sensitive strait. Beijing responded by ramping up military flights around the island, which the mainland considers a breakaway province. Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said that since last year mainland customs authorities had found unspecified pests from imported Taiwanese pineapples “on multiple occasions”. “If the pests spread on the mainland, it would be seriously detrimental to its agricultural production and ecological safety,” state news agency Xinhua cited Ma as saying. “This is a routine biosafety precaution, which is science-based, fair, and in line with mainland laws and regulations as well as standards.” Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture said Beijing was referring to scale insects found in some batches of Taiwanese pineapples but it was baffled about the mainland’s decision. Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung said mainland customs informed Taipei of the import ban on Thursday. “This is unacceptable, and [mainland] China’s decision is regrettable,” Chen said on Friday afternoon in Taipei. The agriculture council said the mainland authority had informed Taipei between March and May last year about the discovery of scale insects in imported pineapples. The pests were found in 13 of 6,200 batches of pineapples since 2020, it said, adding that it received no further report of scale insects since Taipei stepped up export quarantine requirements in October. Beijing blast an ill wind for Taiwan’s cross-strait affairs moderate According to Taipei’s official figures, the island produces about 420,000 tonnes of pineapples each year and before the coronavirus pandemic about 12 per cent were for export. Last year, 97 per cent of Taiwan’s pineapple exports were destined for the mainland, with 2 per cent going to Japan and 1 per cent to Hong Kong. Chen said the government would spend NT$1 billion on marketing Taiwanese pineapples and safeguarding the income of farmers, who are mostly from the island’s southern counties, a traditional power base of the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.